In this tip you'll find 3 ways to remove carriage returns from Excel cells. You'll also learn how to replace line breaks with other symbols. All solutions work for Excel 2013, 2010 – 2003
There can be different reasons for line breaks occurring in your text. Usually, carriage returns appear when you copy text from a webpage, get a workbook that already contains line breaks from a customer, or you add them yourself using Alt+Enter.
In any case, what you want to do now is delete carriage returns since they don’t let you find a phrase and make column contents look disorganized when you turn on the wrap text option.
All these 3 ways are really quick. Feel free to pick the one that suites you best:
- Remove all carriage returns manually to quickly delete line breaks in 1 worksheet.
- Delete line breaks using formulas to employ several formulas for a complex cell text processing.
- Use a VBA macro to get rid of line breaks in a number of workbooks.
Computers and text processing software were created taking into consideration the typewriter specificities. That’s why two different non-printable symbols are used now to indicate line break: "Carriage return" (CR, ASCII code 13) and "Line Feed" (LF, ASCII code 10). Windows uses 2 symbols one by one: CR+LF, and LF for *NIX systems.
Be careful: in Excel you can find both variants. If you import data from a .txt or .csv file, you are more likely to find Carriage Return + Line Feed. When you break a line using Alt+Enter , Excel inserts Line Feed only. In case you get .csv files from a person who uses Linux, Unix, etc., you’ll find only Line Feeds again.
Pros: the fastest way.
Cons: no any additional features :(.
Please find the steps for eliminating line breaks using Find and Replace:
1. Select all cells where you want to remove or replace carriage returns.
2. Press Ctrl+H to open the Find & Replace dialog box.
3. In the Find What field enter Ctrl+J. It will look empty, but you will see a tiny dot.
4. In the Replace With field, enter any value to replace carriage returns. Usually, it is space to avoid 2 words join accidentally. If all you need is deleting the line breaks, leave the "Replace With" field empty.
5. Press the Replace All button and enjoy the result!
Pros: you can use a formula chain / nested formulas for complex cell text processing. For example, it is possible to remove carriage returns and then eliminate excess leading and trailing spaces and those between words.
Or you may need to delete carriage returns to use your text as an argument of another function without changing the original cells. For example, if you want to be able to use the result as an argument of the function =lookup ().
Cons: you’ll need to create a helper column and follow many extra steps.
1. Add the helper column to the end of your data. You can name it "1 line".
2. In the first cell of the helper column (C2), enter the formula to remove / replace line breaks. Here you can see several helpful formulas for different occasions:
- Handle both Windows and UNIX carriage return/ line feeds combinations.
- The next formula will help you replace line break with any other symbol (comma+space). In this case lines will not join and extra spaces will not appear.
- If you want to remove all nonprintable characters from text, including line breaks:
4. Optionally, you can replace the original column with the one where the line breaks were removed:
- Select all cells in column C and press Ctrl + C to copy the data to clipboard.
- Now pick the cell B2 and press the Shift + F10 shortcut. Then just press V.
- Remove the helper column.
Pros: Being created once, can be reused in any workbook.
Cons: you need to have the basic knowledge of VBA.
The VBA macro from the example below deletes carriage returns from all cells in the currently opened worksheet (active worksheet).
Sub RemoveCarriageReturns() Dim MyRange As Range Application.ScreenUpdating = False Application.Calculation = xlCalculationManual For Each MyRange In ActiveSheet.UsedRange If 0 < InStr(MyRange, Chr(10)) Then MyRange = Replace(MyRange, Chr(10), "") End If Next Application.ScreenUpdating = True Application.Calculation = xlCalculationAutomatic End Sub
If you don’t know VBA really well, see How to insert and run VBA code in Excel